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When life gives you lemons …

If you were going to pick the perfect drink (other than water) to quench your thirst on those first hot days of spring, who among us wouldn’t choose lemonade?

Most people know how to make lemonade, right? Squeeze a few lemons into a pitcher, add sugar and then fill with water and ice cubes. Stir and serve. Easy, end of story. However, making lemonade so that it tastes right every time requires just a little more expertise.

The proportions – 2/3 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water, 1 cup of lemon juice – is fairly standard. This ratio makes fairly sweet lemonade. Reduce the amount of sugar if you want your lemonade less sweet.

The true trick to making perfect lemonade is to start by using a simple syrup instead of just combining water and sugar. You need to combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar is fully dissolved.

You may find it strange that after extolling the virtues of lemonade, I would even dare to suggest the substitution of limes for lemons. The flavor of limes is a different but no less refreshing taste than lemons, and sometimes, it’s just fun to change things up a little bit.

The following recipes are all perfect for any day.

Fresh Lemonade with Raspberry Ice Cubes

24 fresh raspberries

1 can frozen berry juice mix

2 quarts water

1 1/3 cups sugar

1 1/3 cups fresh lemon juice

8 lemon slices

Pour a can of berry juice concentrate into a pitcher. Add water according to package directions. Stir with a spoon until well mixed. Pour the mixture into two ice cube trays. Add a raspberry to each section of the ice cube tray. Place trays in the freezer to make berry ice cubes.

In a large pot, mix 2 quarts of water with sugar. Stir the mixture and bring to a boil. When the mixture is boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cook until the sugar is dissolved. This should take about 2 minutes.

Remove pot from the heat. Using a fine sieve, strain the lemon juice into the water/sugar mixture. Place in the refrigerator to chill. When you’re ready to serve the chilled lemonade, place a lemon slice in each tall glass. Fill each glass with raspberry ice cubes and pour the lemonade over the top. Serves 8.

Blue Lemonade

4 cups water

1 1/2 cups sugar

Jucie and zest from 6 lemons

1/2 cup blackberries

1/2 cup blueberries

Heat 2 cups of water with sugar until sugar dissolves. Continue to heat for 5 minutes or so until it starts to thicken up. Add the rest of the water, zest and juice. Let cool to room temperature. Put the blueberries and blackberries in a blender and puree. Stir berries into the lemonade, cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

If you don’t like “chunky” lemonade, strain the lemonade before serving. Serves 6.

Honey Limeade

5 cups water

1 cup lime juice

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons honey

In a pitcher, mix ingredients and stir well to dissolve the sugar. Chill. Serves 6.

Watermelon Lemonade

6 cups seedless watermelon chunks

1 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice

Place the watermelon chunks and water in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the liquid into a pitcher, along with sugar and lemon juice. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate until chilled. Serves 6.

Fresh Peach Lemonade

2 peaches, peeled and chopped

1 cup granulated sugar

4 cups water

3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Mint sprigs (for garnish)

Peach slices (for garnish)

In a saucepan, combine the peaches, sugar and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes.

Allow the mixture to cool and then strain the mixture through a sieve into a pitcher, pressing to extract as much of the juice as you can. Stir in the lemon juice. Mix to combine, and chill for at least 1 hour.

Serve in tall glasses over ice. Garnish with mint or peach slices. Serves 6.

– From Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.